Nepal // Bardia National Park the unexpected side of the country

Nepal is known as one of the greatest hiking destinations is the world, thanks to its stunning natural beauty – and righteously so. But there is more to Nepal than the mighty Himalaya’s. For a completely different type of adventure, head far off the beaten trail to the western part of the country. It takes a long, bumpy bus ride on roads full of potholes to get there, but Bardia National Park is worth the effort. Although only 238 km from Pokhara, it’s like entering a whole different country. The region has a hot and humid climate and the landscape is made up of forests, rivers, grassland and savannah. The park consists of 968 km2 of undisturbed wilderness, home to exotic animal species such as tigers, elephants, rhinos, and crocodiles. It’s yet another testimony to Nepal’s incredible biodiversity.

This destination participated in the 2019 Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards at ITB Berlin and was the 1st winner of the Best of Asia-Pacific awards category.
Elephant in natural habitat
Bardia National Park Rhino

Average costs in this area

Transportation - A bus ticket from Kathmandu or Pokhara to Bardia National Park costs approximately 1,400 NPR. The price for a private car is in the range of 30,000 to 35,000 NPR. In Bardia, most people get around on foot or by bicycle, as distances are typically short.

Accomodation - Room prices at a homestay or simple lodge are around 1,000 NPR a night. Sometimes it’s possible to negotiate a discount when traveling alone. For more upscale accommodation prices are higher.

Food - Since there aren’t many restaurants around, most accommodations serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Depending on the food and availability of ingredients, prices range from 400 NPR to 950 NPR a day.

Suggested daily budget – For food and accommodation at a basic homestay or lodge, a daily budget of around €14/$17 is sufficient. However, you will want to add excursions and safaris. For a group of four persons, a guided jungle walk costs around 2,650 NPR, a half-day jeep safari is around 4,000 NPR and a full-day jeep safari around 6,250 NPR. Expect to pay more for smaller groups. Most likely, the biggest part of your budget will be spent on tours, with the amount depending on the type and duration of the tours taken. Including a full-day jeep safari, the suggested daily budget is approximately €70/$80.

TIps for first visit

1. Bardia Homestay – Bardia Homestay comes highly recommended. It’s owned by Sonja and Budhi: a Dutch-Nepali couple that will make you feel right at home. They provide elaborate information on how to get to the homestay and find your way around Bardia. The homestay itself is a peaceful retreat, located close to the park entrance and several traditional villages. With Budhi’s family living on the property as well, it’s a homestay in the true sense of the word, and an ideal place to experience the Nepali way of life.

2. Stopover in Tansen – Tansen is the perfect stopover on the road between Kathmandu/Pokhara and Bardia. The atmospheric village displays authentic architecture, including a few delicate temples and charming houses in the traditional Mewari style. It’s a lovely place to spend a day or two – strolling around, sampling local food, and chatting with friendly locals – before moving on to Bardia.

3. Bring cash – There are no ATMs in Bardia: prepare to pay cash and bring plenty of Nepali Rupees.

Surrounding village life
Boy watching water buffalos

Do’s and don’ts

Safari time – A jungle walk or jeep safari in Bardia National Park is the undisputed highlight of a visit to the area. Have a guide take you to the best wildlife-spotting sites in the park and get ready to wait… and wait some more. Your patience will be rewarded with sightings of wild elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, deer, monkeys, and birds. With a little bit of luck, a tiger will even make an appearance.

Bicycle tour – If you don’t want to blow your budget on safaris, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy and explore the area. One of the most rewarding and interesting activities in Bardia is a do-it-yourself bicycle tour around the countryside. Immerse yourself in Tharu culture by cruising through traditional villages, featuring characteristic houses made of mud and grass, and exchange smiles with local people.

Chill sessions – The Sunsetview Cafe & Jungle Bar is without a doubt the ultimate hang-out in Bardia. The enthusiastic owner Pramesh, who is always up for a chat, serves excellent coffee from a real coffee machine and cold beers with complimentary snacks. He has a great music collection and even organizes movie nights. Where else do you get to sip a drink on the edge of the jungle while watching village life go by with some relaxed tunes on the background?

Freelancer with a passion for languages and writing. Based in The Netherlands, but loves to travel and often to be found on the road. Specialized in content and travel writing, sustainability, and education, coaching & personal development - though always looking for new challenges.

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